NJDOE Submits ESSA Plan to Feds

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The New Jersey Department of Education submitted its school accountability plan, in compliance with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), for review by the U.S. education department on April 3.  New Jersey was one of only 9 states to submit in the April window.

The state has set a goal that by 2030, four of five students will meet or exceed grade-level standards in English and math and that 95 percent of all students, as well as 95 percent of each subgroup of students, will graduate high school in four years, while 96 percent will do so in five years. Another goal is for English learners to make expected progress toward language proficiency.

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Under ESSA, which replaced the federal No Child Left Behind Act, schools will now be measured based on academic progress, progress toward English language proficiency and at least one new indicator of school quality or student success.

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New Jersey’s plan would measure academic growth based on yearly test scores and student growth. It is proposing to use chronic absenteeism data as its other measure of success. A student is considered chronically absent if he or she misses 10 percent or more of school days in a year.

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States must use the ESSA accountability system to identify schools in need of Comprehensive Support and Improvement, and Targeted Support and Improvement. In addition, states must define “consistently underperforming” under Targeted Support and Improvement

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But, in order to focus on the most critical needs of students and reduce burden on schools and districts, NJDOE is now focused on aligning or eliminating duplicative reporting requirements, creating a cohesive set of supports from our state entities, and providing more timely and relevant data, tools and resources to our educators.  To do this they are proposing a tiered system of support for identified schools and districts.

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Among the changes the State implemented in light of feedback:

  • In order to place greater emphasis on growth/graduation rate in the accountability system the NJDOE adjusted the overall weights to emphasize growth (for elementary and middle schools) and graduation rate (for high schools);
  • The Department committed to providing supports for districts rather than stressing district compliance’
  • In addition to proposed measures (cohort reset, 5 year graduation rate) NJDOE will analyze feasibility of using 6- and 7-year graduation rates in the future as a way of ensuring the accountability system provides schools and districts ample time to support students who need additional time to graduate;
  • The Department will also publish proficiency data with and without participation rate factored in;
  • Introducation of a ‘confidence interval’ in light of potential challenges associated with changes in the ‘n’ size down from 30 to 20; and
  • NJDOE will continue to support districts by providing additional guidance on requested topics

The Department is also committed to providing better guidance on how to effectively use the reports as well as improved visuals and usability

New Jersey is one of nine states that had submitted their plan on Monday.  Other states submitting Monday include:  ConnecticutDelawarethe District of ColumbiaIllinoisMassachusettsNevadaNew Jersey, New Mexico, Tennessee, and Vermont.   The Trump Administration gave States until May 3 to allow for gubernatorial and legislative review.  Other states plan to submit in September.

The U.S. Department of Education has 120 days to review the plan, which includes new long-term goals for schools.